Spam is an annoying aspect of email and most of the garbage email that sneaks past the filters gets trashed by your delete button anyway. So why do people do it? If 99% of the spam sent out gets filtered, sent to the junk folder, totally rejected or deleted once it reaches your inbox, what’s the point?
The answer is simple, money!
Spammers assume they can take shortcuts and send unsolicited email to entice people with money scams, get rich quick schemes, Viagra offers, and just about anything else you can imagine to get ahold of your money. There is often financial incentive for these spammers to send this garbage out to the masses. If you’ve ever received an email from a Nigerian Prince or the late General Mumimbo’s wife, which I assume most of us now have, asking you to help them get the millions of dollars out of their country, you know where I am coming from. All they need you to do is provide your bank account information to store their millions and they’ll cut you in for a share. Now if you think about this for a moment, you might think to yourself, who would be stupid enough to fall for this old scam? Now think about how many people these spammers need to fall for this scam to make it worthwhile for them. If your answer is anything other than “1”, you’re not on the same page as the rest of us.
Let’s do the math.
If a spammer sends out 10 million spam emails and gets 1 moron to send them money, their probably well ahead of the cost it took to send out those millions of emails. According to the FBI, these online scams cost Americans $485 million a year. The Internet Crime Complaint Center annual report said the number of complaints about online fraud rose 3.4 percent in 2012 to 314,252. Even though these figures are posted by a government authority, they are still low and not accurate due to the fact that a large percentage of people who get scammed never come forward to file a complaint because they are too embarrassed. These scams often result in both monetary and emotional distress. On average, each victim reported a loss of approximately $8,900.
In 2008, an Oregon woman, Janella Spears, lost $400,000 to a Nigerian advance-fee fraud scam, after an email told her she had inherited money from her long-lost grandfather. Her curiosity was piqued because she actually had a grandfather whom her family had lost touch with, and whose initials matched those given in the email. Spears sent hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of more than two years, despite her family, bank staff and law enforcement officials all urging her to stop.
Spammers will never disappear or stop trying to deliver their scam emails into your inbox. They will be around as long as email is a technology people use to communicate. Spammers will continue to send junk and scam type emails as long as there are gullible and ignorant people who will buy what they are promoting or continue to send them money due to their own greed and stupidity.
Let me begin by saying I have some good news and some bad news about the Internet. If you’re anything like me, I like to hear the bad news first. So here it goes…
Bad News – Just like a huge, ugly, misspelled tattoo across your back is there to stay and for everybody to see, anything that you post online goes on your digital permanent record.
Are we, as a society, conditioned to believe that everything on the Internet is private and secure? Just because we have the ability to adjust our privacy settings on Google or Facebook, does that mean that our personal information is kept under wraps, only available to our closest friends and family members? Absolutely not.
Next time you post a picture, update your Twitter or Facebook status, or even send an email, remember that the Internet is not as forgiving as your friends. It records everything and forgets nothing. You might be tempted to lash out in a public forum regarding a personal or business issue close to your heart, but it is imperative that you think of the long-term ramifications prior to submitting your comments online. The damage that a disgraceful, unjustified, or unwarranted post can do to your online reputation can easily mean the close of your business and the end of your career.
You might remember a case years ago of an aspiring teacher, 25-year old Stacy Snyder, who posted a picture of herself in a pirate outfit with an alcoholic beverage in hand. When she was denied her teaching degree days before her scheduled graduation due to this incident, she was confronted with the reality that the permanence of the Internet means that there are no second chances.
More than 30 Billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each and every month. In addition, the Library of Congress has archived all Twitter status updates since 2006. Need I say more?
Everything you post online is available for anyone to see. If you don’t want your post tattooed on your reputation for life, just think twice before you submit something questionable.
Now that I’ve exposed the perils of the digital age, it’s time to switch gears and discuss how you can use the Internet to your advantage.
Good News – Anything that you post online goes on your digital permanent record
Sound familiar? I certainly hope so.
Just as an online publication can come back to haunt you for months or years after the fact, it can also serve to boost your online reputation for months or years to come.
Think about the number of artists, novelists, and musicians out there who continue to reap the benefits and revenues from their work that was first featured, published, or released years ago on the Internet. The viral capabilities of the Internet enable more and more people to be exposed to the work of these contributors, earning more fans by the day. As long as the content that is published is noteworthy and indispensable, it has potential to be shared across the world and get noticed for a long time after the initial publication.
You have the potential to build a positive brand identity given the proper tools and resources at your disposal. Start with a blog as a method of generating exposure and luring targeted traffic to your website. Why Write a Blog? What are the Benefits of a Business Blog?
Once you have started a blog that provides readers with valuable content relating to your business or you have a special offer or promotion that needs traction online, you can share your content via email marketing – one of the most cost-effective and revenue-generating marketing platforms available. The appeal of email marketing is that you can craft and personalize your message any which way you see fit in an effort to capture viewer attention and drive traffic to your website. The social sharing buttons and the “forward to a friend” feature of email marketing enables your content to sell itself, and the dividends will be received long after the campaign is finished.
So what will it be?
Will you act in the heat of the moment and go for for the huge, nasty, misspelled tattoo in your drunken stupor and publish something online that will only serve the purposes of self-destruction, or will you take advantage of this viral medium and spread your valuable message to the masses?
You must earn your reputation online. How will you make a mark on the world? What will you leave behind?
In 1925, France had recovered from World War I, and Paris was booming, an excellent environment for a con artist. Victor Lustig’s master con came to him one spring day when he was reading a newspaper. An article discussed the problems the city was having maintaining the Eiffel Tower. Even keeping it painted was an expensive chore, and the tower was becoming somewhat run down. Lustig saw the possibilities behind this article and developed a remarkable scheme. Lustig had a forger produce fake government stationery for him and invited six scrap metal dealers to a confidential meeting at the Hotel de Crillon, one of the most prestigious of the old Paris hotels, to discuss a possible business deal. All six attended the meeting. There, Lustig introduced himself as the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. He explained that they had been selected on the basis of their good reputations as honest businessmen, and then dropped his bombshell.
Lustig told the group that the upkeep on the Eiffel Tower was so outrageous that the city could not maintain it any longer, and wanted to sell it for scrap. Due to the certain public outcry, he went on, the matter was to be kept secret until all the details were thought out. Lustig said that he had been given the responsibility to select the dealer to carry out the task. The idea was not as implausible in 1925 as it would be today. The Eiffel Tower had been built for the 1889 Paris Exposition, and was not intended to be permanent. It was to have been taken down in 1909 and moved somewhere else. It did not fit with the city’s other great monuments like the Gothic cathedrals or the Arc de Triomphe, and at the time, it really was in poor condition.
Lustig took the men to the tower in a rented limousine for an inspection tour. It gave Lustig the opportunity to gauge which of them was the most enthusiastic and gullible. Lustig asked for bids to be submitted the next day, and reminded them that the matter was a state secret. In reality, Lustig already knew he would accept the bid from one dealer, Andre Poisson. Poisson was insecure, feeling he was not in the inner circles of the Parisian business community, and thought that obtaining the Eiffel Tower deal would put him in the big league.
However, Poisson’s wife was suspicious, wondering who this official was, why everything was so secret, and why everything was being done so quickly. To deal with her suspicion, Lustig arranged another meeting, and then “confessed”. As a government minister, Lustig said, he did not make enough money to pursue the lifestyle he enjoyed, and needed to find ways to supplement his income. This meant that his dealings needed a certain discretion. Poisson understood immediately. He was dealing with another corrupt government official who wanted a bribe. That put Poisson’s mind at rest immediately, since he was familiar with the type and had no problems dealing with such people.
So Lustig not only received the funds for the Eiffel Tower, he also collected a large bribe. Lustig and his personal secretary, a Franco American con man Robert Arthur Tourbillon also known as Dan Collins, hastily took a train for Vienna with a suitcase full of cash.
Surprisingly, nothing happened. Poisson was too humiliated to complain to the police. A month later, Lustig returned to Paris, selected six more scrap dealers, and tried to sell the Tower once more. This time, the chosen victim went to the police before Lustig could close the deal, but Lustig and Collins managed to evade arrest.
What is the moral of this story? Don’t be a dumb ass and think someone is giving you something for free or that you are special, for no particular reason. Use common sense and if it sounds ‘too good to be true’, it definitely is.